Why Are So Many Parents Involved With College Selection?

Parents are highly involved with their kids’ education, particularly when it comes down to picking colleges for a number of reasons.

Reason #1 – Economic instability. In ye olde days, a nice, hard working kid from a suburban town would go to University of Pennsylvania and get a liberal arts degree and would end up just fine. Career, car, kids, house, vacations, whatever. In that comfort zone. It was all very predictable.

Now, people have no idea how they should steer their kids. What careers are off the table now? Law and journalism, for sure. How about medicine? Is that still considered a “good” career? What happens to kids with a English degree? Do they end up with suitable jobs down the line? Is pharmacy okay or is that being taken over by robots? What jobs aren’t being outsourced to Eastern Europe?

There are new good jobs around. I guess someone has to sell all those pop-up ads on my dumb cellphone games. But I don’t know enough to advise my kid on those matters. He’s going to have to figure out the job market stuff entirely on his own.

That’s scary for folks, especially because we all know families that are still supporting their 20-something kids. People are losing by making the wrong choices.

Reason #2 – There are options. For people who have never shopped for schools before, it’s a whole new experience. For those who have full stocked 520’s, I guess it’s like going to Burdoff Goodman for the first time with someone else’s credit card. Even for us, it’s fun to make decisions and to get wooed. Some parents are probably reliving their youths.

Reason #3 – There’s a reason that first generation kids have a hard time staying in college and making good choices. It’s hard. Parents have to be involved.

Fitbits and Morning Runs

Hope y’all had a good holiday weekend. We did a lot of socializing, and socializing means lots of last minute cleaning and food prep. I did 16,000 steps on Monday, according to my Fitbit, which may have made up for all the wine that was consumed.

Are Fitbits for old people? I honestly don’t think my steps to the bathroom should count towards any daily exercise goals. On the other hand, it’s kinda fun. I do like counting things. And competing with my friends for weekly steps. And it seems to work for some people. A former colleague has lost almost 100 pounds since she retired; she became an obsessive fitbit user.

I’m always tinkering with my schedule. Trying to find ways to squeeze in more work hours and accomplish more. Lately, I’ve switched from the 9:30 spin class to a morning run after Ian gets on the camp bus at 7:30. I’m done earlier and I don’t have to deal with the crazy women at the gym who shower and put on a full face of makeup before their workout. I can it all done with coffee breath and bedhead. I have a bigger block of time to get work done. I suck at running now, but maybe I’ll be okay by the end of the summer.

I also calibrate all that running with two or three apps on the phone. I do enjoy exer-tech.

Do you use apps to monitor your daily exercise goals?

Links 672

Momma, don’t let your kids grow up to be journalists.

I thought you would be different. I said to myself, go ahead. Take a chance. Hire the smart, fat girl. I had hope. My God. I live on it.  — Name this movie. Answer.

Trying to get into running again. It hurts much more than my spin class. Ow.  I think I earn two grit points for that.

Helaine gives advice to a woman who is overwhelmed by the loans that she took out to cover her kid’s college education.

Is dieting like budgeting? Both are very gritty. Anorxia earns ten grit points, I think.

The Politics of Grit

From the Politico newsletter:

QUESTIONING GRIT: How do issues such as “grit” – or perseverance – and school climate correlate to student test performance? Following next year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, researchers hope to have more clues. The student questionnaire on NAEP in 2017 will include a series of questions that address what are known as “non-cognitive” skills. By asking several questions within the topic areas, acting NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr tells Morning Education they will get “multiple chances to get the best measurement possible.” Researchers will take the answers to create an index that’s compared with test scores to create a composite designed to reflect the relationship between factors such as grit and academic achievement. Students will also be asked about technology use and their socioeconomic status.

– A glance at questions piloted earlier this year suggests what researchers are looking for [http://1.usa.gov/296dnLY ], although how the questionnaire will look next year could change. One pilot question, for example, asked fourth graders if they have a “problem while working toward an important goal, how well can you keep working?” Another question asks how often they “felt left out of things at school?” The questionnaire typically takes students about 15 minutes to fill out, and is optional.

– These types of questions have long helped researchers and policymakers to better understand student learning, said Bill Bushaw, the executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board. He said no personally-identifying information is collected from the sample of students taking NAEP, and no questions are asked about personal beliefs or religion. “It really helps understand the differences in academic achievement and that’s really what this is about,” Bushaw said. For example, in the past, Bushaw said a question that asked students how many times they’d been absent in the last month led researchers to conclude that students who miss a lot of school have lower achievement. School districts have responded by focusing more on school attendance.

– But the conservative Liberty Counsel – joined by the American Principles Project and other groups – penned a letter this week to congressional members to complain. “While ‘grit’ and ‘desire for learning’ appear to be benign terms on their face, other amorphous ‘mindsets’ categories such as these have been used by activist educators in other surveys and material to reshape students’ moral and religious beliefs,” the letter said. View: http://politico.pro/29lF0Ox.

My Own Grit, Or Lack Thereof

One of my goals for this summer is to find common themes in the little articles that I wrote this year and put together a book proposal. I need an outline and two chapters. I have the rare luxury of full days with few parenting responsibilities. For the next three weeks, Ian is in full day camp with a bus. Wahoo! Jonah needs some oversight, and he’s buzzing around in the background distracting me, but it’s not huge. I should be able to do this.

I’m trying really hard to get organized. Every morning, I sit down with the calendar program and plan out the day with goals and benchmarks. I reread Steven King’s book, On Writing, to get inspiration. I’m using the special writing software.

But it’s hard. I still don’t have a routine yet. I did a lot two weeks ago, had several days of other responsibilities, and then completely forgot what I was doing. I’m a mess without deadlines.

A freelance office space is opening up downtown. I might rent a desk there just to get away from the house.

The “Grit” Garbage of the Power of Light Weight Ideas

Sometimes I wade through the articles and books on education policy and think that there is a whole lot more garbage in this field than other fields. Maybe I’m just a grouchy old fart. I suppose that there is garbage amongst the historians and economists, too.

The “grit” fad is case study number one of the education variety of garbage. Light weight and silly. David Denby had an excellent critique of “grit” in the New Yorker last week.

In short, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist and TED Talker*, interviewed a whole bunch of successful people and found that they didn’t give up easily and were extremely focused on a particular ambition. So, all success is based on these two traits. She doesn’t look at losers who also have those traits and ask why they didn’t succeed.

Denby writes,

Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion?

But this silly idea is everywhere. Every education conference tackles it. How do we make our students grittier? How can schools teach grit? And so on.

The power of light weight ideas is truly frightening.

(* What if they replaced the White Walkers on Game of Thrones with the TED Talkers?)